KOCHI: Queerythm, an LGBTQI+ welfare organisation founded in 2017 for the welfare of the community has launched a nationwide campaign to declassify homosexuality as an ‘unnatural sexual offence’. Though the Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Medical Curriculum still demonises the act, say the organisation members.
“This has been a long-standing issue. As part of the queer advocacy program, we used to visit medical colleges. We realised that even now, homosexuality is classified as a behavioural issue/disorder and falls under ‘unnatural sexual offence’ in textbooks including those for forensic toxicology, paediatrics, gynaecology and psychiatry. Even after the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality, students are imparted false knowledge. The campaign demands revision of the medical curriculum,” says Prijith PK, president of Queerythm.
After 21 years, the Medical Council of India rolled out its new curriculum in August 2019, but its take on homosexuality didn’t change. Queeryhtm is planning to send a representation to the National Medical Commission, (which replaced the Medical Council of India, in 2020), highlighting the textbook content and demanding revision. “If the response that comes from the national body is unsatisfactory, we will file a writ petition in the High Court and Human Rights Organisation Disha,” adds Prijith.
“In medical textbooks, unscientific terminologies are used to represent homosexuality, including sodomy, nymphomania. Various medical students who belong to the LGBTQI+ community are mentally distressed as the curriculum forces them to perceive their identity as an offence,” says Mx Anuradha Krishnan, a dental student and board member of Queerythm.
The idea to move legally came after they received a call in their 24 X 7 helpline. A medical student who belongs to a religious, orthodox family, was distressed by textbook definitions, says Prijith.
“International organisations, including American Psychiatric Association (APA), pronounced homosexuality, not as a mental disorder in 1973. In 1990, World Health Organisation also declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. In India, Indian Medical Association also stated the same, yet the medical curriculum defies all of this,” says Prijith.